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Apple walks Ars through the iPad Pro's A12X
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-11-08 00:52:36

Apple's latest iOS devices aren't perfect, but even the platform's biggest detractors recognize that the company is leading the market when it comes to mobile CPU and GPU performance - not by a little, but by a lot. It's all done on custom silicon designed within Apple - a different approach than that taken by any mainstream Android or Windows device.

But not every consumer - even the "professional" target consumer of the iPad Pro - really groks the fact this gap is so big. How is this possible? What does this architecture actually look like? Why is Apple doing this, and how did it get here?

After the hardware announcements last week, Ars sat down with Anand Shimpi from Hardware Technologies at Apple and Apple's Senior VP of Marketing Phil Schiller to ask. We wanted to hear exactly what Apple is trying to accomplish by making its own chips and how the A12X is architected. It turns out that the iPad Pro's striking, console-level graphics performance and many of the other headlining features in new Apple devices (like FaceID and various augmented-reality applications) may not be possible any other way.

During Apple's event last week, the company didn't even mention Intel once, and profusely made it very clear just how much faster the A12X is compared to all other laptops - even its own - that obviously all run on Intel (or AMD) processors. It seems like with this exclusive Ars Technica article, Apple is continuing its A12X marketing blitz, which all just further solidifies that Intel's days inside Apple's Macs are almost over.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-30 -- 31-39
RE: cynical exploitation
By Alfman on 2018-11-09 04:34:47

Cannot upvote you, so +1.

I agree completely. Here's another very recent case of benchmark manipulation, this time giving intel a completely unfair advantage over AMD by disabling it's cores.


There are so many ways to cheat, like using better ram for yourself while using sub-par ram in competing hardware. This is why I'm reluctant to take first-party benchmarks/scores at face value. Having more benchmarks collected independently in real world conditions is better than relying on manufacturer sponsored benchmarks.

It's also useful to test with different algorithms because different processors have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, intel is great at number crunching, but AMD may have better memory architecture. We can't get a good picture of these differences when we aggregate scores into a single variable.

Edited 2018-11-09 04:39 UTC
Permalink - Score: 3
RE[11]: Comparing processors
By viton on 2018-11-09 06:29:21
but it's comparing apple's latest generation with an intel processor from two generations ago.
7700 and 8700 has the same core uarch as 6700.
There are zero improvement other than frequency.

It's impressive that intel got higher scores even while decreasing the core frequencies
You should look at turbo frequencies, actually.
6700K Turbo Speed: 4.2 GHz
7700K Turbo Speed: 4.5 GHz
8700K Turbo Speed: 4.7 GHz

4.5 / 4.2 = 1.07
2583 / 2353 = 1.09

4.7 / 4.5 = 1.044
2703 / 2583 = 1.046

Single core is always runs at turbo, if no AVX2 was used.

Edited 2018-11-09 06:39 UTC
Permalink - Score: 2
RE[12]: Comparing processors
By Alfman on 2018-11-09 08:17:25

> You should look at turbo frequencies, actually.
6700K Turbo Speed: 4.2 GHz
7700K Turbo Speed: 4.5 GHz
8700K Turbo Speed: 4.7 GHz

That's a fair point.

> Single core is always runs at turbo, if no AVX2 was used.

Not if you've got a MBP, haha.

Incidentally I'm actually looking for a new system right now and I really do wish I could buy a high end ARM PC. My enthusiasm is somewhat negated by my skepticism, as you've surely noticed, but truthfully I've been wishing for an ARM PC desktop for several years now. I'd need it to run linux, support PCI video cards and SATA raid arrays, plenty of USB3 ports, etc. I would be all over that! I am hopeful that it'll happen some day, alas it won't be this year. How great would it be if they were right over the horizon though!
Permalink - Score: 3
It will only get better
By d3vi1 on 2018-11-09 15:18:31
First of all A10X is a 5W TDP part (not a 10W). Second of all, the GPU is an important part of that TDP. If you take that out, you get a 3W octo-core CPU so around 0,5-0,7W per high performance core. If you were to put those cores at 5GHz, they would go at 3-4W per core. So it's quite possible to get 64 cores at 5GHz in the sub200W territory.

Right now UltraSPARC gets the crown with 32Core x 8Thread x 5GHz(1280pseudoGHz) in 180W. Intel can only claim 28 x 2 x 2,3GHz (128pseudoGHz). ARM has a real chance to come up with a 64 x 4 x 5GHz and it would blow intel out of the water completely in single-thread and multi-thread.

VMware already has ported ESXi to ARM and they have builds that run on the Raspberry PI. RHEL is available on ARM. UEFI is available on ARM. Windows is available on ARM. XNU is available on ARM. The whole industry is ready to migrate to ARM quite easily. It's just a recompile away.

I can't wait for ARM to become mainstream in the desktop, laptop and server area.
Permalink - Score: 2
RE: It will only get better
By Kochise on 2018-11-09 19:22:45
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RE[2]: They say it's aimed at professionals...
By tylerdurden on 2018-11-09 20:43:01
> No audio professional, ever, uses a built-in 3.5mm jack on a computer or tablet.

you'd be surprised how many DJs use the audio out jack still...
Permalink - Score: 2
RE: Who is it for
By tidux on 2018-11-12 21:26:19
The Neural Net chip alone makes me certain they're going to scale this up to at the very least Mac laptops. That's the sort of chip you really want available -inside- your developer machine for best results.
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RE[13]: Comparing processors
By Kochise on 2018-11-13 15:48:09
Not the most powerful, but a good start :




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RE[5]: Comparing processors
By zima on 2018-11-13 21:53:42
> It's why I've been a proponent of alternative architectures where we're much less dependent upon single threaded performance in the first place.
Alt archs such as?...
Permalink - Score: 2

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